An Early Phase Trial Testing the Proof of Concept for a Gamified Smartphone App in Manipulating Automatic Evaluations of Exercise

People who are more physically active tend to have more favorable automatic evaluations of exercise (i.e., nonconscious evaluations based on mental associations between “exercise” and “pleasant” or “unpleasant” that manifest into approach tendencies). Although some interventions have been shown to modify automatic evaluations in lab-based settings, the training regimes may not translate into scalable real-world interventions. The aim of these studies were to (a) test how often people tend to engage with the app in a “real-world” setting, and (b) test whether an app with gamification features and evaluative conditioning strategies change automatic evaluations of exercise versus sedentary behavior. Participants (N = 289, 238 female, M age = 33) were randomly allocated to have access to either Flex Exercise—a game-based app which contained 70% exerciserelated content or Flex Control—the same game-based app with no exercise content. Participants completed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) as assessments of automatic evaluations immediately after exposure to Flex and 24 hr later. No significant betweengroup difference was observed immediately after exposure to Flex for automatic evaluations; however, 1 day following exposure, those in the Flex Exercise condition had significantly more favorable automatic evaluations of exercise than those in the Flex Control condition (d = 0.24). This effect was driven by a change in automatic evaluations, as assessed through the IAT, in the control condition more favorable towar sedentary behavior relative to physical activity and was magnified by user engagement


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Work Title An Early Phase Trial Testing the Proof of Concept for a Gamified Smartphone App in Manipulating Automatic Evaluations of Exercise
Open Access
  1. Magne Rasera
  2. Harshani Jayasinghe
  3. Felix Parker
  4. Camile E. Short
  5. David E. Conroy
  6. Ben Jackson
  7. James A. Dimmock
  8. Ryan E. Rhodes
  9. Hein de Vries
  10. Corneel Vandelanotte
  11. Amanda L. Rebar
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Publication Date January 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited August 03, 2022




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Flex_Revised_R2__PSU_copy_.docx
  • Added Creator Magne Rasera
  • Added Creator Harshani Jayasinghe
  • Added Creator Felix Parker
  • Added Creator Camile E. Short
  • Added Creator David E. Conroy
  • Added Creator Ben Jackson
  • Added Creator James A. Dimmock
  • Added Creator Ryan E. Rhodes
  • Added Creator Hein de Vries
  • Added Creator Corneel Vandelanotte
  • Added Creator Amanda L. Rebar
  • Published